Claymation as a Teaching Resource

Use of claymation in a teaching program

Claymation can be taught as its own topic or to support the learning of a teaching focus in a particular curriculum area.

The following provides a short description for a teaching sequence that might be used to teach claymation:
Students plan and create a claymation digital video using video planning, storyboarding, and frame-by-frame video shooting. They investigate the background of claymation video, record their findings, and apply the knowledge as they design their one minute short film. (Nortel LearniT, 2006)

The following examples describe how claymation can be used to support the learning of a particular teaching focus:
· To portray the life cycle of a particular animal
· To show the changing nature of a particular environment, person or thing
· To create an alternative ending to a text

Claymation can be integrated into a number of areas across the curriculum including;
· Literacy – exploring how digital literacy’s are created
· Art
· Information and communications Technology – see my willy below
The possiblities are unlimited.

Claymation could be introduced to students in grade 5-6. Students involved in creating a claymation would address the VELS ICT learning standard for level 4 that states...
(Students) … independently use a range of skills, procedures … to process different data types and produce accurate and suitably formatted products to suit different purposes and audiences. (VELS, 2010)

Anticipated Learning Outcomes

Claymation allows students to present their ideas in a different format to the traditional methods used in classrooms today.

Creating digital media requires many different skills including;
Researching information
Creative thinking
Critical thinking
Decision making
Increased ICT skills
Collaboration and communication

At the conclusion of the claymation lesson sequence students can expect to have an understanding of the techniques used in a claymation. Be able to complete a step by step procedure and competently use movie make to produce a claymation. They also learn to collaborate and communicate effectively within a small group.

Learning outcomes for claymation differ to more traditional classroom activities as students show higher engagement levels with this type of activity. This is confirmed by Peterson (2008) who says "Teachers also recognise a significant increased student engagement throughout the animation project." Students are also able to gain a deeper understanding of how digital texts are created rather than just being presented with the finished product. Another difference to traditional methods is the number of different skills students are required to integrate to produce a claymation. Traditional methods do not often require such a comprehensive list of skills as those described earlier to be utilised in one activity so it allows students to integrate more skills at once rather than use them in isolation. Students also gain a deeper understanding of how ICT and creative thinking can be merged to produce a powerful learning resource.

Problems Using Claymation

Despite all the benefits of using this technology with a class, there are some problems that teachers may encounter along the way. Firstly there is the issue of time: teachers are often on a very tight schedule and claymation can take a lot of time for students to work on. There are several different stages of planning, making a storyboard, sculpting figurines and making a backdrop, filming, and then editing the piece. Altogether this can prove very time consuming. It is up to the teacher then to make sure students are aware of time constraints and help them through each stage by explaining thoroughly and making sure they understand.

This means that some students may need extra time and assistance; while some have probably had experience with this kind of technology, others may have never encountered it. These students will need extra support and a good idea might be to pair them with more experienced techno-users.

The students will need a large enough physical environment to work in. Equipment such as cameras, possibly large backdrops, and adequate room for groups of students to work needs to be catered for. This means working in a large enough classroom for everyone to have access to what they need. As well as this provision, resources may be an issue for this task – will the school budget cover plasticine to mould with and paper, felt etc for backdrops?

Lastly, the teacher needs to make sure all students have access to enough computers, digital cameras, and editing software. This can be a problem if the school does not have much of this equipment, but can be overcome by taking turns or using school budgeting to buy necessary hardware.

Evaluation of Learning

Student learning could be evaluated in a unique way to suit the task: as well as the teacher marking students on their ideas, teamwork, effort, thought, and end product, other students in the class could also rate one another’s claymations. This would then be averaged to become part of the overall mark along with the teacher’s. Evaluating in such a way would mean students would be marked on how entertaining or informative their peers found their claymation, as that is its purpose! This is fairly similar to traditional forms of evaluation but with some student contribution. It will also mean students will pay attention to everyone else’s work and feel like they had some sort of input. They may also find this marking system fairer and enjoy rating the end product Claymations they viewed, leading to a rewarding class experience.

A rubric could also be useful to evaluate student's learning. Below is an example of a rubric designed by Nortel LearniT which could be adapted to suit particular learning focuses and needs.